According to published studies, obesity rates in the United States have climbed nearly 50% since 1997. One in three patients today is overweight, and one in three suffers from metabolic syndrome and higher risk factors for diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Physicians are increasingly being held accountable for population health management, reducing risk factors in their patients, and better managing chronic illnesses. The ability to change health status by helping patients lose weight will be a key factor for practices to be successful in the future.
Examining the Issue
Recently, some new practice models and programs for healthcare professionals have been introduced in the U.S to address this problem. For example, pay-for-performance (P4P) programs encourage healthcare practitioners to improve patient wellness in measurable terms. With regard to obesity, P4P underscores the importance of measuring patients’ BMI levels, counseling those who are defined as obese, and helping them throughout their weight loss journey to improve clinical outcomes.
As of now, the long-term effects of P4P programs on health and wellness are largely unknown. However, costly chronic health conditions like diabetes, stroke, and heart disease are often seen as an attractive target for pay-for-performance initiatives. It is essential that physicians adopt these types of programs in order to help patients manage their weight as well as prevent and manage chronic illnesses.
It’s not just primary care physicians (PCPs) who have a role to play in fighting and preventing obesity. Patients who have one of the major risk factors for heart disease are often referred to cardiologists by PCPs. Studies have linked obesity to almost every chronic disease in some way, meaning specialists across the healthcare spectrum have a role to play.
Capitalize on Opportunity
About 5 years ago, I introduced to my cardiology practice to a weight loss method that is structured, proven, predictable, and repeatable. The method provides practitioners with the tools to support overweight patients, such as one-on-one nutrition counseling and education, and motivates them along their weight loss journey with measurable results.
Since launching this program, the results have been impressive. Almost 6,000 of my patients have lost more than 96 tons of weight using the protocol. Most patients have experienced major and often life-changing effects on their heart health and overall wellbeing. Furthermore, it has provided an ancillary business growth opportunity for my practice. In fact, the weight loss portion of my practice has outgrown the cardiology side. This is proof that managing obesity and patient health can both help patients and your business’s bottom line.
Weight-Control Information Network. Overweight and obesity statistics, 2012. Available at: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/.
World Health Organization. Media Centre: Obesity and Overweight. Fact Sheet N°311. Updated January 2015. Available at: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/.
Lorincz IS, Lawson BC, Long JA. Provider and patient directed financial incentives to improve care and outcomes for patients with diabetes. Curr Diab Rep. 2013;13:188-195.
Smith AL. Merging P4P and disease management: how do you know which one is working? J Manag Care Pharm. 2007;13(suppl B):S7-S10.
Scott A, Sivey P, Ait OD, et al. The effect of financial incentives on the quality of health care provided by primary care physicians. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;9:CD008451.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Rockville, MD. Office of the Surgeon General, 2001. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44206/.